Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal was, on Thursday, asked whether he sought any blessing from a meyni (sorcerer) ahead of their gruelling India tour, but manager Asanka Gurusinha promptly came to his defence to avoid any further embarrassment.

The Sri Lankan skipper had stunned everyone last month when with his witchcraft confession, stating a special blessing from a sorcerer paved the way for their their surprise series sweep against Pakistan in UAE.

Team manager and former Sri Lankan batsman Gurusinha played down the controversy. The visitors play their first Test at the Eden Gardens. “He has answered some questions back there. In cricket, you got to get out there and perform on the field... each player has to do that. That’s the way the Sri Lankan team believe. Yes, we have our own religious beliefs like all of you. But at the end of the day, you go there and just play,” Gurusinha said.

Sri Lanka’s selectors have axed top-order batsman Kusal Mendis, who went through a lean patch since making a hundred against India in the second Test at SSC. He went 13 innings without a half-century and was dropped from the One-day International side after the second game in Abu Dhabi.

Gurusinha, who is also a selector, backed the 23-year-old batsman and feels that he would come back stronger. “We know he’s one of our future players. It’s up to us to protect and guide him through. If we brought him here and he failed, he would have been out of the team for nearly one-and-a-half years. We didn’t want to do that. We have some plans for him. We want him to play domestic cricket. I believe he will come back stronger.”

Pacer Nuwan Pradeep was also overlooked for the Tests due to fitness concerns but he is expected to be brought back into the side for the ODIs. “We can’t take on the no 1 side with injured players. We want to give him time to build his fitness levels. He will be definitely there for the ODI series and we will start from there. He’s not out of Test cricket for us. Hopefully, he will be back for the Bangladesh early next year,” the 1996 World Cup winner said. Sri Lanka will take on India in three Tests, three ODIs and as many Twenty20 Internationals.